Laboratory decommissioning

Laboratory decommissioning standard


This standard outlines procedures to ensure that laboratory/studio space is reassigned according to health, safety and environment regulations and standards. Prior to a laboratory being reassigned, renovated or demolished it shall be cleared of any unnecessary biological, chemical, radioactive or physical hazards.


Laboratory supervisors are responsible for vacating a laboratory according to this standard.

Laboratory supervisors are responsible for any costs related to vacating a laboratory including hazardous materials identified and/or removed to Environmental Safety Facility ((ESC) ext. 35755) and the decontamination of equipment and facilities unless their department has agreed to an alternate cost arrangement.

The Safety Office shall provide advice about hazardous materials disposal and the decontamination of equipment and facilities. Where a laboratory supervisor has not addressed the requirements of this standard, the laboratory supervisor’s department shall have the conditions rectified.

The Safety Office shall be consulted about the transfer of any hazardous materials and related equipment from University of Waterloo (UW).

Laboratories shall not be assigned to a new laboratory supervisor for use or to a contractor until inspected by Department Chair, Administrative Head or designate using UW’s Laboratory decommissioning form (PDF). In the event that the laboratory is not immediately re-assigned to a specific researcher the department will sign-off as the incoming researcher and will sign-off as the outgoing occupant when the space is re-assigned. All decommissioning forms need to be submitted to the Safety Office as space is re-assigned.

Guidelines for vacating laboratories:

  • clean, tidy and free of combustible materials
  • chemical containers properly identified, labelled and sealed
  • laboratory glassware empty and cleaned
  • autoclaves, ovens, refrigerators, freezers, incubators, fume hoods, storage cabinets cleaned-out and decontaminated
  • lab bench tops and fume hood work surfaces cleaned (washed down)
  • compressed gas cylinders returned to the supplier(s)
  • unused hazardous consumer products disposed of as hazardous waste (i.e. cleaning solvents, paints, thinners, oils, pesticides, etc.)
  • hazardous waste disposed of through Environmental Safety Facility ((ESC) ext 35755)
  • signs, posters and non-University property removed and
  • documents or statements left with department director/chair for any equipment or materials that the department has agreed to have remain in the laboratory (i.e. Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), services manuals, inventory, etc.).
  • Lab decommissioning form filled-out and one copy submitted to Safety Office and another retained in departmental file.